Working a vintage, my first week on the job at London Cru
Phew! I am knackered. I’ve just finished my first week at my new job and I’m exhausted. When I signed up as Event Coordinator for the first urban winery in London, London Cru (opening to the public early Nov. 2013), they vaguely mentioned something about helping out with the vintage in the winery. I, of course, jumped on that and said I’d be happy to help out. Little did I know that I would get to be a fully pledged and integrated member of the team (read: cellar rat).
I am getting such a kick from spending all day in the winery and learning so much. Gavin Monery, the winemaker, is more than happy to answer all my questions and genuinely wants to share his passion for the vine. Lots of winemakers started out as cellar rats and although I may be late coming to the game, there’s still hope for me yet.
The concept behind the winery is to bring the wine making experience to Londoners. It’s not very easy to gain access to a winery during vintage time but at London Cru, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in all aspects of the wine making experience with their winemaker. As a wine lover living in London, I’d be thrilled if I was able to ruck up to Zone 2 (Earls Court) and make wine in a real, fully equipped winery. Well, soon you will be able to do just that. The winery is going to be open year round for events, dinners, tastings, masterclasses and even Christmas parties as well as other such happenings. At the moment though, we’re concentrating on making our wine which should be available next year.
Anyway, the grapes arrived on my second day in the job and I was thrown in the winery as the first load of 4 tonnes of chardonnay from Ch. Corneilla in the Roussillon arrived. Sorting, pressing, and putting the must into tanks used up most of the day and at the end, we had to leave the winery looking spotless. Let me tell you, at 10pm at night, I was just hoping we’d get done in time for me to catch the last Tube. That is one big advantage to an urban winery, you can catch the Tube home!
We also had 4 tonnes of syrah come in from Roussillon later that week. The syrah was a bit less taxing because we only had to sort and destem it before it went into the tanks, pressing will come later. It was however, still a long day. One thing I never realized in all my press trips is how much time it takes to clean a winery and all the equipment used, probably because by the time the winery staff get around to cleaning, we are knee deep in foie gras at dinner. London Cru’s winery is small but still, it does take hours to clean properly.
By the end of the week, the chardonnay was tucked away in it’s oak barrels and the fermentation was getting going. As for the syrah, it’s sitting in the stainless steel tanks, awaiting fermentation to start….stay tuned for continuing updates….